Getting near the end of my rope - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Getting near the end of my rope

My puppy Savannah is 20 weeks today, been living with us slightly over 2 months. I've been working with her (training, exercise, playtime etc) every day, mostly by myself. We have made progress but there's still some problems with her that I'd really like to see better results with. We're a few weeks into a puppy obedience class but I don't think it's doing much for her. I got some GSD specific training books before she arrived here and read them cover to cover (multiple times). I don't expect to get perfect results as the books seem to suggest, especially since she's my first puppy, but I was hoping the puppy class would help with the other stuff, and they haven't. Now my husband is suffering from sciatica and is practically bedridden, so I'm taking care of him as well as the puppy, and he's not able to contribute with her at all. Really started to think I made a mistake getting this puppy, or a mistake with the breeder (they told me she was a "calm" puppy and she's anything but), bad timing with the health problems etc.

Here are my main issues right now:

1) She is still totally unable to be left alone in the house, even for a second. She steals anything she can get her teeth into, chews everything including the floor, and if I accidentally lose my grip on her leash, she'll run around like a maniac hunting for my cats in every corner, ignoring all commands to come back to me no matter what I offer her. I've tried keeping her tethered to me, with partial success in some rooms, but it hasn't helped her learn to stay near me at this point. She knows what "stay" means but really doesn't care.

2) The biting. OMG the biting. I've tried everything under the sun to get her to stop. From screeching "ow", to biting back, to going off into the corner of the room and pretending to sob about how mean my puppy is. I know that she's in the middle of teething right now. Problem is, she doesn't usually bite during play or anything like that, or I'd just tell her to stop/disengage or crate her if she was being too hyper. Nope, she bites when I'm doing things I NEED to get done, like putting on her harness when I'm buckling her into the car, or wiping her muddy paws when we're coming inside. I know it's partly my fault, she doesn't bite hard enough to break skin but being treated like a meaty chew toy by the creature I'm dedicating so much time to is infuriating and I have a hard time staying calm with her.

3) Harassing my cats. I really need her to understand that they're off limits. I've tried very hard to keep her from chasing them (and they're also getting pretty good at disappearing when they hear her crate being opened). But she also barks at them, LOUDLY, whenever they're in sight. And my younger cat likes to peek around corners and stare at the puppy from afar. She seems very curious about the puppy, just doesn't want to be chased. I've been working with the two of them together on the barking. While Savannah's in her crate with me sitting next to her with (high value) treats, I let the cat come close at her own speed. Every time puppy barks, I hush her and redirect her attention to me, once she's been quiet for a short time she gets a treat. It's worked a bit but when the cat goes past the crate, she just goes ballistic, jumping and barking like crazy and ignoring me completely.

4) She still pulls on the leash. We've been working on this for many weeks now. It's gotten a little better but I'm considering getting her a prong collar just for my husband's sake, as much pain as he's in right now he can't handle her at all. Also it's very hard to walk her with him in any case as she focuses on me even if he's holding the leash, and if I'm walking her, I end up forced to stop a lot to correct her for whatever behavior I don't like, and if he gets too far ahead she tries to drag me to catch up with him. I hate asking him to stop every time and she gets distracted by him as well.

One of the biggest issues for me right now is that I've been a cat person all my life and never really understood dogs at all. I fostered kittens last year and loved it. I really want to get more foster kittens, but it just doesn't seem feasible right now. So I'm left feeling like I traded something I loved for something I don't feel suited for.

And yes I know my puppy is still a baby, that she's teething and will get better when she's older etc. And I'm mostly just a bad dog owner. But honestly if my husband isn't feeling better by the end of this weekend (the timeline the doctor gave us before they go to more extreme steps to find out what's causing his issues) then I'm seriously considering returning her to the breeder.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 10:40 PM
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What you are describing is typical puppy behavior for most dogs, not just GSD. Return the dog...clearly you are not bonded to the dog. No shame in that... You are a cat person...leopard can't change her spots.

If you decide to keep the dog, the "issues" you are having are not difficult to fix. Crate the dog. That takes care of some of your issues. Train more effectively (not more...more effectively). Burn the books you got, go on youtube, and check out some videos. Mike Ellis is one of the people you should look toward. There are dozens. Work with a trainer 1:1 to educate yourself on how to teach your dog. But, unless you have serious aggression issues, I don't see a need for 1:1 if you are willing to educate yourself from online sources.
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Last edited by eddie1976E; 05-10-2019 at 11:16 PM.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 11:10 PM
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Yes, I'd say go ahead and talk to the breeder. This is all very normal for a GSD pup. Some of these dogs can grow up to be very good with cats, some can't. These dogs thrive on building great bonds with their owners. Working with a trainer /mentor you can get through all of these things and you'll be amazed at what a wonderful do you will have, but it will take 2 or 3 years! If you really want to foster kittens you do have a choice to make.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:42 AM
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German Sheps aren’t called land sharks for no reason! They definitely bite, chew and love to play ( which is actually harassment ) with small moving animals, like cats. Prey drive doesn’t do them any help in this either. If you want a calm dog go for something that is notorious for being calm. There are some very laid back breeds, German shepherds definitely not being one of them! But if you’re dead set on the breed but don’t think you can take on a puppy, check out shelters who have adults, be sure they’re ok with cats and know not to chew things that aren’t to be chewed. They calm down lots after that puppy stage. Or maybe look to some breeders who often have trained dogs or older pups for sale! That’ll save you from the difficult puppy time. It’s good you’re trying with her, some dogs much more difficult than others. Your Breeder definitely did you dirty by saying she’s on the ‘ calm’ side. Probably didn’t get to know the pup too well and assumed her behavior much too young. This isn’t your fault, and there’s no shame in contacting them about the pup. Definitely get a crate.. I use an e collar which may seem like a cruel tool, but I only use the vibrate option unless it’s a life or death situation. If she doesn’t like to pay attention after you telling and telling her to stop, an e collar could aid seriously in getting her attention. Only use this if the dog has good nerves, you don’t want to scare her into submission. Also try bonding more, try hand feeding and some serious one on one time, you need her to have respect for you which she may lack.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:45 AM
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Also prongs help a lot. I understand it, a cat person is a cat person. You’re probably extremely uneducated. A german shepherd as one of your first dogs is a very difficult thing to have. Do what’s best for you, giving her back after all may be what’s best. If you’re diehard for a dog go to some shelters to work with more, and get in touch with more trainers. As one person said, YouTube is a great option to get some education.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 04:33 AM
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I was in the same place as you just a few months ago. I thought I might lose my mind if I had to stop the puppy from chasing the cats one more time. It gets better! Just put her in her crate, find a good trainer and let the cats and her work it out. For a long time, I did what a trainer I had suggested with the cats and the puppy. Which was keep her on a leash and try to redirect. It did NOT go well. After the puppy was a bit older, someone suggested I just let the cats and the puppy work it out. I was outraged until one day, I was exhausted and thought to **** with it. The dog learned to treat the cats way better after one cat slap (I have the best cats who never scratch) and now the household is at peace! You’ll survive this too
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 08:05 AM
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All sounds very normal for a GSD puppy. They are often not the easiest puppies for first time owners because they can be very driven. They often need more clear boundaries and drive satisfaction than other breeds. Often the typical walk around the block of playtime in the back yard is not enough.



Collared Scholar is open up a new course for pet owners in the 20th that will address things like loose leash walking, house manners, ect... The trainer running it also does live chats where people can ask questions. Might be worth checking out and since it is online your husband can also watch the videos. https://collared-scholar.mykajabi.com/a/14594/ZGTu8KNZ
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 08:14 AM
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Please don't take this is the wrong way, but why was a puppy your choice of pet? Any puppy take months/years to train, and some breeds are so much more active/challenging than others. If a German Shepherd was exactly what you've always wanted, maybe return this pup and search for an adult in a foster home with cats.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 08:17 AM
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One more thought, if my math is right she was twelve weeks when you got her. A few weeks older than normal. Was she at the breeders the whole time or is this her second home.

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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie1976E View Post
If you decide to keep the dog, the "issues" you are having are not difficult to fix. Crate the dog. That takes care of some of your issues. Train more effectively (not more...more effectively). Burn the books you got, go on youtube, and check out some videos. Mike Ellis is one of the people you should look toward. There are dozens. Work with a trainer 1:1 to educate yourself on how to teach your dog. But, unless you have serious aggression issues, I don't see a need for 1:1 if you are willing to educate yourself from online sources.
I do have a crate, in fact I have two, one upstairs and one downstairs. See my post from a few weeks ago about how I felt having her crated all the time. https://www.germanshepherds.com/foru...her-crate.html

And I've been scouring the internet, youtube, etc since before she came home. Sometimes I feel like I spend all day watching videos or trying to find an answer on this or that topic. My problem I guess is that I have a hard time applying what I learn to my personal situation. For example, none of the videos I've watched about cats being introduced to puppies are helpful at all. The animals never seem anywhere near as tense as my cats and puppy do when they're even in view of each other.

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Originally Posted by Kennaandkurama View Post
Your Breeder definitely did you dirty by saying she’s on the ‘ calm’ side. Probably didn’t get to know the pup too well and assumed her behavior much too young. This isn’t your fault, and there’s no shame in contacting them about the pup. Definitely get a crate.. I use an e collar which may seem like a cruel tool, but I only use the vibrate option unless it’s a life or death situation. If she doesn’t like to pay attention after you telling and telling her to stop, an e collar could aid seriously in getting her attention. Only use this if the dog has good nerves, you don’t want to scare her into submission. Also try bonding more, try hand feeding and some serious one on one time, you need her to have respect for you which she may lack.
Yeah the breeder thing was a little sketchy. We let them know from the start that we were new to GSDs and wanted one that was less hyper. Two of the female puppies were absolutely crazy, biting and attacking everything in sight. One grabbed hold of my foot through my sock and would not let go. They had 3 that they said were more quiet, but the one we wanted was picked by someone ahead of us in line, one didn't seem interested in us at all, the third liked my husband but didn't seem interested in me. Savannah seemed really quiet and sat on my lap and licked me and didn't bite at all. So I asked about her and was told "she was worse when she was younger but now she's calmed down a lot". So we picked her and only when she was home and comfortable with us did she show her crazy bitey side.

And we've done the hand feeding with the puppy class, I still feed her a large portion of her diet by hand when I'm training or walking with her. Honestly she does better sometimes when we're out and about than she does at home. Seems kind of backwards.

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Originally Posted by germanshepowner View Post
After the puppy was a bit older, someone suggested I just let the cats and the puppy work it out. I was outraged until one day, I was exhausted and thought to **** with it. The dog learned to treat the cats way better after one cat slap (I have the best cats who never scratch) and now the household is at peace! You’ll survive this too
I've tried that too, my male cat clobbered her multiple times right on the nose and she didn't seem to even notice. And he is not a small cat, he's a maine coon and almost fearless in most situations. His one weakness is his fear of feeling trapped (bad experiences with the vet). He also has a moderate heart murmur, and when he is stressed, he'll start shaking uncontrollably. So far the vet and now the puppy chasing/cornering him are almost the only things I've seen to get that response from him. I even have a video of when they first met, he was completely fine with her and they sniffed each other and interacted great, until he decided he'd had enough of being poked at and left the room.. and she chased him. It was all downhill from there.

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Originally Posted by ksotto333 View Post
Please don't take this is the wrong way, but why was a puppy your choice of pet? Any puppy take months/years to train, and some breeds are so much more active/challenging than others. If a German Shepherd was exactly what you've always wanted, maybe return this pup and search for an adult in a foster home with cats. One more thought, if my math is right she was twelve weeks when you got her. A few weeks older than normal. Was she at the breeders the whole time or is this her second home.
I wanted a dog because I have some anxiety about being alone, and I want to spend much more time outdoors/hiking etc. My husband works a lot and is kind of reclusive when he's off work, so I need a companion to go out with, and one big enough to deter random strangers from, you know, "unwanted interactions". She was available at 8 weeks but I asked the breeder to hold her till 10 weeks as I was finishing up a temp job and wanted to have all my time to spend getting to know her. But even all the time in the world doesn't seem like enough and especially not now that my husband is barely able to walk.

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